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Obama agenda: Chiding and conciliation

The New York Times: "President Obama took his rhetoric of reform on Thursday to the nation's financial capital in a high-profile foray to chide Wall Street bankers for their 'reckless practices' and to press for tighter regulations meant to avert another financial crisis… But the president also struck a note of conciliation with an industry that has contributed generously to his party, beseeching bankers to work with him to forge a new regulatory structure. While he spoke, his Democratic allies in Washington moved to force a showdown in the Senate on Monday, scheduling a procedural vote that will test the prospects for bipartisan compromise and Republican resolve to block the president's plans."

Two very different impressions here: The AP writes, "Obama also struck a note of conciliation with an industry that has contributed generously to his party, beseeching bankers to work with him to forge a new regulatory structure."

But here is he New York Daily News on the speech: "Bull fight: Prez gores Wall St."

Fast times with the facts? Democrats yesterday hit Republicans for playing fast and loose with the facts. And they have been. But President Obama also bent the truth yesterday in his speech in New York when he said that a vote for this bill is a vote to end taxpayer bailouts. That's not exactly true, because without breaking up big banks, there's no guarantee that if there won't be future bailouts.

That's a point NPR makes this morning: "This is close to a consensus view among the experts. Some say that's a good idea, some say it isn't. But most say that unless you chop up the big banks into lots of small banks, you won't end too big to fail."  

Whoa. "The country's top financial watchdogs turned out to be horndogs who spent hours gawking at porn Web sites as the economy teetered on the brink, according to a memo released Thursday night. The shocking findings include Securities and Exchange Commission senior staffers using government computers to browse for booty and an accountant who tried to access the raunchy sites 16,000 times in one month. Their titillating pastime was discovered during 33 probes of employees looking at explicit images in the past five years, said the memo obtained by The Associated Press." 

New health care numbers are out. "Nearly 4 million Americans -- the vast majority of them middle class -- will have to pay the new penalty for not getting health insurance when President Obama's health care overhaul law kicks in, according to congressional estimates released yesterday," the AP writes. 
 
And an Obama administration Health and Human Services Department study found: "The overhaul will increase national health care spending by $311 billion from 2010-2019, or nine-tenths of 1 percent," the AP says. "To put that in perspective, total health care spending during the decade is estimated to surpass $35 trillion. Administration officials argue the increase is a bargain price for guaranteeing coverage to 95 percent of Americans. They also point out that the law will decrease the federal deficit by $143 billion over the 10-year period." 

Some Republicans are signaling that they will oppose any move for immigration reform by invoking the economy. Here's a statement Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions released yesterday: "One in ten Americans are unemployed. Wages are stagnant. The pace of job creation is too slow. In this context, there is little enthusiasm in Congress to pass legislation that would legalize millions of unlawful residents to compete with out-of-work Americans for needed jobs, further driving down pay and draining government resources. The Senate and the American people soundly rejected that approach at a time when the economy was doing far better, and they will again today. One has to ask: are members raising the idea of comprehensive reform now because they believe the majority of Americans truly want it, or because it serves a specific political purpose in a tough election year?

Drill, baby, drill? "President Barack Obama is ordering federal agencies to devote every resource necessary to help with the situation in the Gulf of Mexico where an oil platform exploded and sank. ... Officials fear a massive oil spill could result from the sinking of the drilling platform about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast."